Each year, the 165 foot pirate ship "The Jose Gasparilla" enters Tampa Bay and its crew invades the city. Nearly half a million people view the invasion andaccompanying parade which moves along Bayshore Boulevard. With the beads and thousands of party-goers, many people consider Gasparilla to be Tampa's equivalent of Mardi Gras.
The pirate festival has been held for over 100 years and attracts visitors from all over the world. The festivities actually occur over many weeks. The week prior to the invasion is when the Gasparilla Children's Parade is held (along a similar, but shorter route). Three weeks after Pirate Fest, the annual Sant' Yago Knight Parade is held in Ybor City.
Many other "Gasparilla" themed events take place, including the Distance Classic and the Gasparilla Arts Festival.
Official Web Sites:
- SAT., JAN. 22: Gasparilla Extravaganza
3:30 p.m.: Children's Parade
7 p.m.: Fireworks
- SAT., JAN. 29: Gasparilla Pirate Festival
10 a.m.: Gasparilla Invasion Brunch
11:30 a.m.: Gasparilla Invasion
2 p.m.: Parade Of Pirates
- FEB. 19-20: Gasparilla Pageant
- FEB. 26-27: Gasparilla Distance Classic
- MARCH 5-6: Gasparilla Festival Of The Arts
- MARCH 24-27: Gasparilla Film Festival